|Fri, Apr. 02 2010 10:01 AM EDT

Texas Megachurch to Give Out Cars, TVs at Easter Services

By Lillian Kwon|Christian Post Reporter

Easter at a megachurch in Corpus Christi, Texas, will look like the popular TV game show "The Price Is Right."

Bay Area Fellowship Church
(Photo: Bay Area Fellowship Church)
Bay Area Fellowship Church in Corpus Christi, Texas, will give away more than $2 million worth of prizes, including cars and TVs, during its Easter services.

Sixteen cars, 15 flat-screen televisions, furniture sets and other prizes are lined up at Bay Area Fellowship Church and ready to be claimed by anyone who attends the church's Easter services on Sunday.

Though the church of some 7,000 weekly attendees has regularly flexed its creative muscles to draw the unchurched, the upcoming "Ultimate Giveaway" is like no other outreach it has ever attempted.

Pastor Bil Cornelius, who made the game show analogy, admits it's a bit "outrageous."

But he sees it as "an opportunity to share Christ with people who may never go to a church for any reason," he told The Christian Post.

The prizes are worth over $2 million and are all donated items or sponsored by members of the church. Pastor Cornelius asked the congregation to give and to get their businesses involved for the bold effort. Bay Area members signed up to give cars, bikes, laptops, gym memberships and other gifts.

"I'm very proud of our people for being so incredibly generous and willing to do whatever it takes to get spiritually lost people in the door to hear about the love of God," the lead pastor said.

Along with some of the bigger prizes, every individual or family attending one of the church's 30 worship services held across seven campuses this weekend will receive a "value pack" of gift certificates worth over $300 from local businesses. Additionally, more than 300 children attending the newest campus – located in a lower income neighborhood on the west side of Corpus Christi – will receive new bicycles.

The "ultimate" giveaway, however, will be the free gift of heaven and Christ.

"We hope to show people that while it is exciting to receive free stuff here on Earth, the greatest free gift of all time is something we haven’t yet seen, but can enjoy for all eternity," said Cornelius, who started the church 12 years ago with five people.

"The entire giveaway leads to the Grand Prize available to all, salvation through Christ, if simply received ... with no strings attached (Ephesians 2:8-9)," he added.

Cornelius acknowledges that the Easter giveaway has drawn some "pretty strong" criticism from other believers, some of whom accuse the pastor of turning Jesus into a product.

But the Texas megachurch pastor responded to the critics, saying: "[I]f just one of their children were lost and found Christ through this program (that they may not approve of), I bet they'd be glad we did it."

Bay Area Fellowship Church expects some 15,000-20,000 people this weekend. The giveaway is open to all members of the church and visitors but excludes staff and their families.

"They're coming for the loot and they're going to leave with Jesus," Cornelius said.

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Zombie jesus, remind me not to be down there on Easter:)  I'm actually coming to the island this weekend with my fabulous gay cousin, James.  Sandfest will be a madhouse, but not as bad as this mess. 
My goodness, when you say "my fabulous gay cousin, James," do you mean your cousin is gay or he is named James or both?  :-)
[sigh] Anytime I read something like this, I find that P. T. Barnum comes to mind.  Now just WHY would THAT be...?
I might agree with you, but at least with Barnum you get real clowns.
Never mind acts worth watching.  I always loved the tigers and the elephants.  WHY would I want to watch a turkey?
Speaking of animals, I wonder if this guy, like Jim Bakker (he of Tammy Faye fame) has an air conditioned dog house?
Ummm ... to keep Tammy Fae's makeup from melting?

This actually makes a lot of sense.


By giving away your possessions (which theoretically don't matter to you as a Christian), you can tempt "sinners" to come to church, where they will possibly find God. As long as these are actually donations made for this purpose and not being bought with church funds, I can't see where any problem lies.


Of course, the logic here only works if you believe that it is sinners who will be drawn into this, rather than already-believing-yet-still-greedy Christians.

I doubt the cars and TV were "donated" in the sense that, say, one congregant is a car dealer and donated the vehicles; no, I suspect they spent church treasury money to buy the cars wholesale, TVs too.
I suspect that as well. But I also like to give the benefit of the doubt.




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